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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

Introductory to America

The United States

By James Russell Lowell (1819–1891)

(From An Ode for the Fourth of July, 1876)

SEVEN years long was the bow

Of battle bent, and the heightening

Storm-heaps convulsed with the throe

Of their uncontainable lightning;

Seven years long heard the sea

Crash of navies and wave-borne thunder;

Then drifted the cloud-rack a-lee,

And new stars were seen, a world’s wonder;

Each by her sisters made bright,

All binding all to their stations,

Cluster of manifold light

Startling the old constellations:

Men looked up and grew pale:

Was it a comet or star,

Omen of blessing or bale,

Hung o’er the ocean afar?

Stormy the day of her birth:

Was she not born of the strong,

She, the last ripeness of earth,

Beautiful, prophesied long?

Stormy the days of her prime:

Hers are the pulses that beat

Higher for perils sublime,

Making them fawn at her feet.

Was she not born of the strong?

Was she not born of the wise?

Daring and counsel belong

Of right to her confident eyes:

Human and motherly they,

Careless of station or race:

Hearken! her children to-day

Shout for the joy of her face.